Thirty years ago Judge Rosario Livatino was brutally killed by the mafia on his commute to work at a courthouse in Sicily. Today he is recognized in the Catholic Church as a Servant of God and a candidate for sainthood.
Before his murder at the age of 37 on Sept. 21, 1990, Livatino spoke as a young lawyer about the intersection between the law and faith.
“The duty of the magistrate is to decide; however, to decide is also to choose… And it is precisely in this choosing in order to decide, in deciding so as to put things in order, that the judge who believes may find a relationship with God. It is a direct relationship, because to administer justice is to realize oneself, to pray, to dedicate oneself to God. It is an indirect relationship, mediated by love for the person under judgment,” Livatino said at a conference in 1986.
“However, believers and non-believers must, in the moment of judging, dismiss all vanity and above all pride; they must feel the full weight of power entrusted to their hands, a weight all the greater because power is exercised in freedom and autonomy. And this task will be the lighter the more the judge humbly senses his own weaknesses,” he said.
Livatino’s convictions about his vocation within the legal profession and commitment to justice were tested at a time when the mafia demanded a weak judiciary in Sicily.
For a decade he worked as a prosecutor dealing with the criminal activity of the mafia throughout the 1980s and confronted what Italians later called the “Tangentopoli,” or the corrupt system of mafia bribes and kickbacks given for public works contracts.
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